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DRIVING

France rolls out more laws to fight road deaths

Under pressure to tackle a rise in road deaths the French PM announced 22 measures on Friday from installing 500 more speed cameras to the use of drones as well as making helmets obligatory for young cyclists.

France rolls out more laws to fight road deaths
Photo: AFP

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls laid down the law on Friday saying: “France’s roads must not be a cemetery”.

Valls has been under pressure to cut road deaths, which saw an alarming rise of 19.2 percent in July this year.

And it wasn't just a one-off. 2014 was the deadliest year on French roads in 12 years with 3,384 people losing their lives.

After a crisis meeting of various ministers Valls announced another series of measures aimed at cutting the death toll.

Here are the stand-out measures among the 22 announced.

500 new fixed cameras

The legion of new generation speed and multi-function cameras will also be backed up by a further 10,000 decoy cameras that will be installed on roads around the country over the next three years.

That will bring the number of fixed cameras from 4,200 to 4,700 and by using decoy cameras for the first time Valls says it will quadruple the areas covered by the devices.

The new cameras will not just to catch speeding drivers but to crack down on offences like jumping red lights and dangerous driving as well as catching scooter riders who are not wearing helmets.

There will also be more mobile speed cameras attached to unmarked police cars.

Breathalzser starter devices

Valls also wants courts ti be able to force those with a history of drink driving to have breathalyzers fitted into cars that must be blown into before the engine starts. 

Drones to monitor traffic

Authorities are to experiment by sending drones up into the skies to monitor traffic certain dangerous black spots. Helicopters are currently used in the same way to observe sections of roads where drivers either break the speed limit or drive too close together.

Gloves on

Gloves for motorcyclists will be mandatory. The measure is seen as important in preventing injury as riders' instincts are to throw out their hands when they fall.

Scooters to undergo tests

Anytime a scooter is sold on it will have to undergo a “contrôl technique” to ensure it is in good working order and not a risk to the rider.

Under 12s to wear helmets

Last year 16 children under the age of 15 died on the bikes so in a bid to make it safer for young cyclists the government has decided all under 12s must wear helmets.

Company car drivers to be punished

Up until now authorities have been unable to punish drivers who commit offences while driving company cars, because bosses have often kept their identities hidden to make the most of a loop hole in the law.

But from now companies will be obliged to reveal the identity of drivers.

The new measures follow on from a raft of new rules announced in January by interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who said the government’s plan was to reduce the number of road deaths to under 2,000 a year by 2020.

One of those measures involved banning drivers from using hands-free kits for mobile phones.

On Friday Valls appealed on individuals to take responsibility for their actions he confirmed that the French were becoming less vigilant and the average speed was rising. 

The measures have been denounced by motorists groups like 40 Millions d'Automobilistes which says France has become the global leader in introducing repressive measures on drivers.

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DRIVING

The law changes drivers in France need to know about in 2023

From petrol discounts and motorway tolls to low-emission zones and help to buy a greener car, here’s what’s changing for motorists in France in the next 12 months.

The law changes drivers in France need to know about in 2023

Petrol prices 

The French government’s €0.10 per litre discount on petrol and diesel ends on January 1st, and TotalEnergies’ discount-match at its fuel stations also finishes.

Motorists may be able to look forward to some help from the supermarket chain E.Leclerc, which also owns several petrol stations across France, after the head of the chain E.Leclerc, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, told BFM Politique on December 18th that the company would “make a gesture” to help motorists in France with rising fuel prices, but he did not provide any further details.

But the blanket discount will be replaced by targeted assistance for households on lower incomes who rely on their vehicles for work, with about 10 million workers expected to receive a one-off payment of €100.

To apply for the aid, you will need to register your details on the tax website. 

READ ALSO Who will get France’s €100 fuel hand-out and how?

Carpooling

The French government has unveiled a plan to encourage carpooling on Tuesday, offering drivers who register on carpooling platforms a benefit of €100.

Drivers will be able to register starting on January 1st, and the payment of €100 will be done in instalments – with a lump sum of “at least” €25 upon registration and then the remaining amount distributed over the course of 10 carpool journeys.

“Carpooling is a very effective lever for reducing our country’s fuel consumption in a sustainable way. It is good for the climate and good for the purchasing power of the French,” French environment minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told Huffpost.

READ ALSO French government announces €100 payment for those joining carpooling platforms

Motorway tolls

From February, motorway toll fees will rise by an average of 4.75 percent, after rising 2 percent in 2022.

The Transport Ministry pointed out that the 4.75 percent toll increase – announced in October – is “markedly lower” than France’s inflation rate of 6.33 percent. 

On some networks, electric vehicles will benefit from a five percent discount, while regular users – who make a minimum of 10 return journeys a month on the same route – may be eligible for a discount of 40 percent, up from the current 30 percent. Check with the motorway operator for details.

READ ALSO Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

Breakdown fees

No one wants to break down on the motorway, but if you do, you probably want to know how much getting your vehicle fixed will cost. The annual government-set charges are clear.

If your vehicle can be repaired at the side of the motorway in 30 minutes or less, you will be charged a government-set fee. A decree published in September 2022 indicated that the fee was to rise €131.94 in 2021, to €138.01, plus parts.

READ ALSO French motorway breakdown services cost rises

Extra help to buy electric vehicles

French president Emmanuel Macron announced in October an increase in the financial aid available for anyone who trades in a combustion engine car for an electric one from January 2023.

In a partial reversal on previous plans, under which the ecological bonus for trading in an older car for an electric model was set to fall, Macron said: “Because we want to make the electric car accessible to everyone, we are going to increase the ecological bonus from €6,000 to €7,000 for half of [France’s] households.” 

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: The financial aid available to buy an electric car in France

Electric car charge points

Since October 1st, electric vehicles parked in front of a public charging station must be connected and charging – drivers cannot simply use them as an extra parking space. Anyone who ignores the rule risks a fine of €58.

Crit’Air sticker extension and more fines for polluting vehicles

France’s environment minister announced in October a major extension of the city low-emission zones controlled by Crit’Air stickers, plus an increase in fines up to a maximum of €750. 

Between 2023 and 2025, 43 more French cities will create low-emission zones, on top of the 11 that already have them.

READ MORE: Crit’Air: Drivers face €750 fines in France’s new low-emission zones

The Crit’Air system requires all motorists – including the drivers of foreign-registered vehicles – going to any of the low-emission zones to get a sticker for their vehicle. The sticker assigns the vehicle a number from 0 (all electric vehicles) to 5 (the most polluting).

Some low emission zones will begin gradually banning more polluting cars. Paris, for instance, intends to ban Crit’Air 3 vehicles in July 2023, a move held back from July 2022.

READ ALSO Driving in France: How the Crit’Air vehicle sticker system works

Winter tyres

France introduced a law, the Loi Montage II (mountain law II), in 2020 making winter tyres, chains or socks compulsory in certain areas, which will finally come into effect in 2023.

The law makes either snow tyres, all-weather tyres or chains compulsory in 48 of France’s 96 mainland départements – generally those areas which are mountainous, with local authorities in those départements responsible for deciding where such rules will be applied.

READ ALSO Winter tyres and snow chains: What are the rules in France?

Insurance

Drivers in France may not have to worry about the little green stickers that they attach to their windscreen (windshield) soon, after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced plans to scrap them in favour of a digitalised system set to start in 2023.

The goal, according to the finance minister, is to simplify the process for drivers and reduce costs.

French car insurers, like France Assureurs, have been pushing for the piece of paper to be scrapped for some time.

READ ALSO France announces plan to scrap vehicle insurance windscreen stickers

Roadworthiness test for motorcycles

After some back and forth, the French council of the state decided in October that motorcycles (two-wheeled vehicles) would also need to comply with “roadworthiness” testing starting January 1st, 2023. This is part of a decree passed by the French government in August 2021, and it specifically concerns two-wheeled vehicles registered to dates prior to 2016. The council of the state specified that the vehicles concerned are “motor vehicles with two, three or four wheels with a cylinder capacity of more than 125 cm3.” As of December 2022, the details regarding how this plan will be implemented were not yet available, so it is possible enforcement measures will be staggered, according to reporting by Auto-Moto.

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